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Building Fund discussion from Nov 2008 meeting
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Posted 2010-02-19 4:40 PM (#3927)
Subject: Building Fund discussion from Nov 2008 meeting


Posts: 1572
Location: Issaquah, WA

CFP Pat Householder

At the 2009 San Diego meeting, we convened a special Post ABM CF meeting for the purpose of establishing a "Building Fund".  NSVC Jon Jaquesmade the motion and NS Al Singleman seconded.  The purpose was to have a place to park some expected donations and collect more over the next decade or so towards this purpose.  It was voted into being without dissent.

It's time to put some clothes on this skeleton.  In review, the Charitable Foundation is separate and apart as an entity from USSVI.  They are not one and the same, even though this CF board (you and I) are all members of USSVI.  None of the other 13,000+ USSVI members have any legal connection or responsibilty to the CF.  For fundraising to be deductible, it has to have a charitable purpose.  Just raising money for 'a building' does not meet that test.  What is the charitable purpose for gathering funds to build or acquire a building?

I think the 'obvious' answer is to house the USSVCF Library already in hand and located in free space at the A.I.M.M. Possibly expanding the purpose of the Library Fund to collect artifacts as well for exhibit in such a building, i.e. changing it to a Library and Museum Fund.  Providing space to USSVI for an office (which doesn't need it anyway) is not a charitable purpose.  At this time the A.I.M.M./USSVI Library arrangement is quite satisfactory, but we are looking ahead perhaps a decade to a time when that may not be the case.

What will happen if insufficient donations are received to carry through with the building objective?  The money once donated as a contribution cannot be returned, according to my understanding of IRS rules.  If we are to solicit donations, somewhere in the fine print weneed to acknowledge this possibility and explain that the money would flow into another part of USSVCF if the fund were closed after a specifiedperiod of time.

This question also must be asked and satisfactorily answered.  Is this the best course and wisest use of CF funds and our personal energies?  We're not doing a very credible job of fundraising as a board and fund managers for the funds we currently have in place, after all.  Could we achieve the same goal by partnering with an existing library and having our books as the USSVCF collection within that library?  (This is essentially what we are currently doing with ourlibrary located at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.)  Will the general deckplate member of USSVI be interested and willing to provide meaningful financial support, both prior to acquisition and afterwards for maintenence and upkeep?  As a separate organization, USSVI will have no financial responsibility to do so other than through the willing participationof the membership.

Please think all of this over and reply backwith your comments, suggestions and concerns.

John Markiewicz

I am a firm believer in establishing a permanent library/museum. I have no objection to a lease arrangement instead of a purchase so long as there is an"option to buy" provision included in the lease. I think thedepressed economy and depressed housing and commercial real estate market makesthis an ideal time to move forward on this. If a large enough building ispurchased or leased then space can be rented out to either USSVI or to someother organization, which would help pay the mortgage or lease. We have talkedabout this for years and it is time we did something about it. I agree that we should put it on the National Ballot. If the membership are in favor we should move on it, if they are opposed we should not waste any more time discussing it.

CFT John Andersen

My preference would be to raise monies tolease a property with the goal of buying the building long term. I am trying tothink like my clients with a large charitable budget. If I were contemplating a$1,000, $10,000, $100,000 or greater donation I would want to some comfort thedonation would be dedicated only to the library (purchase or maintenance of abuilding) and not maybe we will do this. I have asked a number of tax people I knowand a couple have said that a donation can be returned to the donor if thepurpose changes. This is not my area of tax so I am unable to opine. We perhaps need to work with an attorney with an expertise in charitable gift giving and charitable operation area.

 I also think that most donors of asmaller amounts, less then $1,000, would be willing to donate without theguarantee of buying a building, i.e., we may not buy the building but we canpromise the monies will be permanently set aside to fund the library needs(rent, book purchase, etc,). Some shipmates may be willing to donate more.BUT someone thinking of donating or be questing in their will or trustlarge amounts probably want some assurance the project has areasonable chance of coming to fruit.

Jon Jaques

I spoke to CPA recently who does a lot of charitable foundation work for the Nashville community.  He would be considered the local 'go to' guy for charitable foundations.  I asked him about the building fund and what would happen ifa building was purchased.  He says we could have a program that had adefinite time parameter, such as fifteen years and if a building was notpurchased within that time frame, the money could revert to the general fund ofthe charitable foundation.  He has set several large projects up this way,including purchasing very expensive piece of art for the Frist Museum in Nashville.  If the acquisition was notable to be made after certain perameters, the funds reverted to another area.

We could establish a ten or fifteen year window that establishes if we don't raise $XXX,XXX for the purchase of a permanent building, and it's subsequent care and upkeep, the funds would revert to the Charitable Foundation General Fund for redistribution as the CF BODfeels appropriate.

Without a permanent facility, I doubt the viability of a permanent library, museum, or archive.  We need to have a membership vote on their desire for a permanent location.  If ourshipmates don't see the value of this idea, we don't need to go through thetrouble of speaking to an attorney who could give us a legal opinion and drawup the appropriate contribution paperwork.

CFP Pat Householder

 I think this is a good recommendation.  I propose that we include the question as part of the 2010 National Ballot as a referendum, following the form of a proposal with a pro and a con statement included to be included inthe voting issue of the American Submariner magazine.  The pro and con statements should be limited to 150 words or less each, and written by twodifferent people and edited for maximum clarity.    (This does not lend itself to the simple POLL feature on our website)

CFVP John Peters

The PURPOSE of the Fund could be to Lease, Maintain, or Buy a building with no specified schedule.   I have no problem with establishing such a fund but we need to recognize that it could be decades before sufficient funds are received to buy or lease a building.

In addition to the Library, we could LEASE SPACE to USSVI and stop paying outsiders for our office space.

Do we know of any anticipated donations for a building fund?

Bill Lee

Why don't we just get behind the project and make it work. We now have some things placed in a building that we don't own.The mangagement there at this time, is very cooperative, but that could changetomorrow and we have no guarentee or anything control over what might happen.What happens at AIMM is very much a part of the attitude of the politics ofthat city. That can always change.

I have nothing against setting it up right and having a timetable, but I also think we have to be positive and determined thatwe are going to make it happen. I know some are against it and that is fine, but a good way to make any project fail is to damm it with faint praise andkeep bringing up all the negative ways it might not work.

 If we expended half the energy andeffort we have with some of our other projects, it would have been done by now. The members for the most part get behind anything the board is really for.I just don't understand what is so wrong with wanting to set up a library,collect some of the artifacts people are selling or giving away because no oneasks for them, and realizing that there are lots of volunteers out there that would work for us. The fact that not all of them would be subvets shouldn't stop us. Ask any of our museum boat managers which they prefer tohave working for their companies.

Right now in N. Little Rock, property is going for $110 a sqft. in the downtown area.Decent property in the 1500-2000 square foot range can be bought that is ingood enough shape to be used with very little in the way of remodeling. This istrue in several other places in the country. The National office pays for thespace they use. Paying to lease part of an existing building regarlessof who owns it and what the status of the corporation is that owns it does notaffect the non-profit status of the company owning the building.  If wewere to get a library/museum up and running, it would not be a problem to leasepart of the space to any company. Obviously having a guarenteed renter to helpwith part of the cost of the overhead would help. It would also make it moreefficient to be able to use people where needed for tasks. I went online and inless than five minutes read through a couple of articles talking aboutnon-profits having buildings for their use and renting out or leasing toretailers to help with the cost of the operation and it was done that way onpurpose. To provide a similar example of what was stated, USSVI itself couldask for and obtain articles that had significance to submarine history,including articles that had to do with USSVI. These could be placed in part ofwhat USSVI would be leasing with the agreement that they also could be shown tomuseum visitors or used as part of the library collection. What USSVI did withthe rest of the space they were renting or leasing would have nothing to dowith what the non-profit was set up for and the fact they were non-profit wouldnot affect at all the status of the non-profit that owned and used the rest ofthe building. There are always ways to accomplish what is important to someoneto accomplish. What you say and how you word it is important, but it can bedone.Over and Over all around the country small non-profit museums set up to collect and show artwork, books,  andartifacts on thousands of subjects. Most of those who work as volunteers arenot people who previously worked in the same field that the non-profit,they now volunteer, for does.  They just like to be a part of something.Perhaps with some enthusiasm and some encouraging from the board, we might beable to find more people within the organization to fill in slots, but thatdoesn't have to stop a project that certainly could be more of a demonstrationof our creed than some of the other projects we have engaged in.

If we stated we could only accomplish projects that really showed our belief in our creed if we had to have minimum %of members engaged in the project, then we wouldn't have much to do. At LIB, we have one person representing two bases all by himself with the K4K project. He didn't have to have 5 or 10  or 100. He wanted to do it, so he went outand did it and it benefits all of us. One member at Groton had an idea and went out and researched it and set it up with the help of others, but no one said, you can't do it unless the majority of people are involved.

I always thought that as submariners we had acan do attitude and could accomplish anything that was needed to be done. Istill think that is possible, but only if people are willing to do it.

 So set up all the safety nets needed,then please stay out of the way and let those of us who would like toaccomplish this have a chance to do so without finding reason after reason thatit isn't worth doing. Telling the members, yes you can if you want, but as aboard or as a  representative of the board it really I don't think it isimportant, is not the spirit I saw demonstrated while on my boats.

Michael Bircumshaw

I am thinking that a question or series ofquestions posed to the membership are  a good idea.

I feel like I am missing a chunk or two ofinformation in order to plunge into the"building fund" although I didsend in my $50.00 at the get go..

We have not established a "budget' so wedo not know how much we need to raise.

We have not established a building size so wedo not have an idea of how much we need to raise.

We need to consider future maintenance anduseage of the proposed building.  There will be ongoing maintenance,taxes, and insurance.

Will the useage include space forUSSVI?  Will we be relocating our headquarters?

The building will need to be in an area thathas a reasonable pool of Sub Vet volunteers to sustain the operation.

Is this simply a library or is it a museum aswell?

Will it be located in an area where there isa  potential market for paying visitors which might help offset expenses?

Other than that I have not completely thoughtthis through.

I agree that it should be an open ended fundthat might include leasing, renting, and or purchasing as our needs dictate.

CFVP John Peters

After reading all the comments (and for thatmatter all of them for quite a few years) I think I agree with Bill Lee and Mike Bircumshaw. 

I think if would be a good idea to have the building close to an active base.

If we plan to combine the USSVI Office,Museum, Library, ...etc it seems logical to have the building inSilverdale.  (Both to continue the service of Fred and to minimize themove.)

We don't have to have all the money to buy abuilding up front, merely some assurance of the member support necessary to paythe mortgage.

It has been several years since we checkedthe market prices for a suitable building.  With the market entering theObama Depression it may be a good time to check again.

It would be nice to CONTROL all aspects ofour Library, Museum material and Office.

I suspect some of our elderly members wouldwelcome the opportunity to support a building fund.  We should ASK themembership. 

A long discussion ensued

CFP Pat Householder

Thank you all for a meaty discussion of the "Building Fund" and the future direction of theCF.  The point was made that we need to ask the membership if they will support this project, and I would add not only intellectually and emotionally,but also financially. 

Another good point was made that whether the current USSVI member vote is up or down, the decision is notset it stone and may be revisited at a later time by a later board.


We will proceed to include the question as part of the 2010 National Ballotas a referendum, following the form of a 'proposal' with a 'pro' and a 'con'statement included to be included in the voting issue of the AmericanSubmariner magazine so that the member can make an informed vote up ordown.  The 'pro' and 'con' statements will be limited to approx 150 words each, written by two different shipmates, and edited for maximum clarity.

Bill Lee

I would like to know why the members of USSVI( since I am sure that would be what members are being referred to) would needto be asked if they approve an action of the BOD of another corporation. If westart a precedence like this, then how do we conduct business. We are notspending money that is there, nor are we asking to take money from USSVI, weare merely wanting to do what the CF board voted to do which was to allowpeople who wanted to, to contribute to a building fund so that the Library Fundwe have had for many years would have a reason to exist. It has already beenstated that if the referendum goes against the idea, then the idea would haveto be brought up at a later date, read at least two years later, whichessentially means that already it has been decided that if people can convincethe members not to vote for it, then in essence, they have stopped the CF frommaking a decision that they and they only had a right to make.

The big thing that is wrong with this that itmeans that as we discuss things and decide how the CF should operate, nowsomeone who has stated they are against the project, can go and try andconvince other people to tell the CF what they can and can't do.

Does this mean that for every other committeeand operation carried out by the CF, if someone on the USSVi board doesn't likeit that without even a vote on the idea, they will just put up a referendum andlist it.What group or board voted to decide what and what not to put up on areferendum? Does this mean that all can do the same thing if they don'tlike something? Was it the USSVI board, was it an individual, if so does this meansome other individual can put up an item if they want.

I am all for expressing views and thenworking with the majority to make what the majority has decided. Seems to methe majority decided to have a building fun. This is not how I would expect afraternal organization to do things. If there were big bucks on the table andsomeone was going to make a lot from doing something like this, I could atleast understand it, even though I would find it wrong, but here it is merelythat someone doesn't like it so they are going to work to make sure it doesn'thappen and evidently don't care if it causes others to attempt to do the samething when they don't like how something went.

I am sure many members who vote on such areferendum, will not understand it has no legal standing and will expect thevote to decide what happens. And if a negative vote causes no action to betaken on a building fund, then we are back to allowing others not in acorporation to make decisions for the corporation. If this were ever to be done,it should have happened before we voted on the building fund.

 We asmembers have no rights to call for a referendum for issues we would like to seeput up for a vote and there is no provision for any binding referendums to beused by anyone in USSVI, including the board, so this is just another way totry and stop something and finding loopholes around what the C & Bdoes not allow them to do.  The opportunity to do something by oneindividual, should be given to all individuals to dothe same thing with thingsthey don't like.

I find it  wrong that while many basesunderstand the importance of allowing members to have a say in how the base isrun, so have provisions to allow members to bring up an item for a vote whenneeded, that we still can't do this on a national level, but now are going toattempt to manipulate the members to swing support against something that isimportant to many of us and being done in such a way that it is not causing anyfinancial burden on the organization.

What is really sad is that taking awaythe  opportunity to give the organization a place to have, collect, anduse parts of our history is a direct demonstration that we really don'tcare about  how to make our creed visible to others. Taking this away,merely because someone isn't interested is not in the spirit of allowing peopleto work out their own way of helping the organization do the things that manyfeel are important.

Trying to write a positive statement,probably before the negative one comes out, so as to convince people who willbe confused, becomes an exercise in futility as it is always easier to getpeople to be against something than for it. I am really ashamed that we areeven contemplating such an action. Stating that the board can revisit it at alater time is the same as saying, not while I have the watch, will it happen.For shame. If this does happen, it is for sure that every base and every memberwill be made to understood why this happened and why it is wrong.  Itsounds to me like this is a good way to make a big split in bases and members and to give those who don't have much feeling for the board and the good the you generally do, a big opportunity to make some claims that will be hard to refuute.

CFTJohn Andresen

I have read and understand most comments. Onepoint that seems to be confusing is in Pat's comment

  "The point was made that we need to ask themembership if they will support this project, and I would add not onlyintellectually and emotionally, but also financially."

Everybody, please understand the membership is only nine or ten shipmates, i.e., the USSVI Board.The members of USSVI are NOT members of the Foundation, they just vote for the USSVI Board and, by default, the members of USSVCF. 

So if you poll,take a survey or otherwise ask for their input please word the survey or poll so as NOT  to imply they are members. All they can do with respect to USSVCF is vote for the members to the Foundation

CFP Pat Householder

It's all in the context, John.  Thereferendum will be on the USSVI ballot, so it will be USSVI members expressingtheir preference.  Since this is a CF matter, why even involve USSVImembers in this question?  Because they are the ones who will be asked tocarry the burden of supporting and maintaining it, even though theywill have no direct ownership of a CF owned building and the CF Boardcan completely ignore their preference, if it chose to do so... an unwisechoice in my opinion. 

Also, keep in mind that this is not reallyabout supporting or not supporting a library collection.  There are manyways to do that short of acquiring a building and the CF does have alibrary collection in place at this time. 

This referendum is whether or not the CFshould purchase or lease a building that would contain the CF Library.

A Short discussion followed!


I would suggest a goal of raising $500,000for a building for the CF and USSVI.  I think we can raise that amount ofmoney within 10 years.  I have been informed of at least one $50K giftcoming to the CF.  We could set out a challenge to our greatshipmates if they would like to have the building named after them, they couldcontribute 50% of the necessary funds to purchase a location.  There aresome giving-minded shipmates in our organization.  They just need guidanceand focus for their gifts.  Don't under estimate the desire of ourshipmates to support the legacy of the submarine community.


I have no problem with asking the members their opinion.  However, it must be stressed to the members that their opinion is non-binding.  The members may say "Hey, that's a great idea."  We must also be stress that we're looking ten years out and that this will not become a reality for quite some time.


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